Developer Transfers Land For Discovery Partners Institute In The 78

Rendering of DPI at previous location by OMA

Developer Related Midwest has transferred the land title of a portion of The 78 mega-development to the University of Illinois for the construction of the Discovery Partners Institute. The transfer gives the university control of an acre of land near the intersection of S Wells Street and W 15th Street to begin the first phase of the education facility. The project being developed by the university features a bold design by globally-renowned design firm OMA.

Updated site plan of The 78 via Related Midwest

Discovery Partners Institute (right, orange)

Discovery Partners Institute (right, orange). Model by Jack Crawford

The 78 (orange)

The 78 (orange). Model by Jack Crawford

The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) will focus on three main aspects including developing tech talent in order to attract and retain educated professionals, work on applied R&D by providing the resources and funding to turn ideas into products, and lastly business building by creating programs that help fix the racial and gender imbalance in the Chicago tech community. They will achieve this through partnerships with the Pritzker Foundation, Argonne Labs, Cardiff University, Northwestern, IIT, UIC, University of Chicago, Tel Aviv University, National Taiwan University, and more.

Rendering of interior atrium of DPI by OMA

The OMA-designed 11-story structure will rise 180 feet tall and be pierced by a full-height central atrium to create a beehive like environment, this will be surrounded by stacked floors of lab space and office on one side, with alternating staggering office and classroom spaces on the other, topped by a top-floor cafe and terrace. The building will be enclosed in a hexagonal netting like glass and metal facade that will allow for plenty of light to permeate all of the interior spaces, adding to the collaborative environment.

Section program diagram of DPI by OMA

The 261,000-square-foot facility is just part of what DPI will have the opportunity to construct if they chose to exercise the ownership of an additional three acres of land to construct student housing, tech offices, more lab space, and an additional riverfront incubator. This new plan comes after much of The 78 received a redesign due to Related bidding for the city casino proposal, this changed the initial crescent park being ditched for a central community park surrounded by office and residential separating the casino from research district.

The 78 (orange)

The 78 (orange). Model by Jack Crawford

The 78 (orange)

The 78 (orange). Model by Jack Crawford

Rendering of rooftop terrace under hexagonal facade by OMA

A future CTA Red Line station is planned at W 15th Street, estimated to cost roughly $300 million, is also up in the air as plans for the mega-development continue to evolve. The station would be located near the research buildings and serve thousands of expected users. DPI itself will cost more than $250 million, however $250 million have already been secured and a groundbreaking is expected next year, with an anticipated opening date in late 2025 or early 2026 according to Crains.

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10 Comments on "Developer Transfers Land For Discovery Partners Institute In The 78"

  1. I realize that this design will prove too much for middlewestern tastes which prefer water casseroles, strip malls and Lawrence Welk, but this design will be a great addition to the 78.

  2. Rusty Wallace | March 26, 2022 at 11:58 am | Reply

    Reminiscent of the Thompson Center

    • @Sage, It’s not a dig at the city, but the Yimbys here who wish to make it reminiscent of Mattawan Michigan, or whatever dreadful suburb from which they hail.

  3. Hard to understand how an institution of higher learning, student housing will coincide with a casino. Doesn’t make sense.

  4. Love the design and I thought the same thing regarding it’s ‘nod’ to the Thompson center.

    With regards to the proximity to a casino development that’s called economic diversity and vitality within an urban fabric. I love the two side by side even thought they are not exactly side by side. Talk about a mixed use development.

    And finally regarding the 78, I which there was a little more height in the overall development plan.

  5. People who have the belief that ‘students/higher education next to a casino does not mix’ have never met (or been) both an undergrad or post-grad student before. Most will prefer being in a vibrant area where they can unwind after stressful weeks, as opposed to being wedged in between some residential area.

    Just like everything else, the liveliness and energy around a campus play a huge part as to how attractive that campus is to newcomers.

    I could be wrong, but I truly don’t think this argument is as much of a distraction or nuisance as everyone likes to point out.

  6. So the idea is to have a University R&D center next to a casino… Seriously? What bizarre type of urban planning is this?

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